On January 2nd, U.S. Department of Arts & Culture-NYC animated and transformed the Brooklyn Museum's 3rd floor Beaux Arts Court space into the "City of Justice" for the Museum's First Free Saturday where thousands of people come through the museum.
This interactive space was organized by the USDAC Field Office. Betty Yu, the NYC Cultural Agent curated the show in partnership with Bridget Bartolini and Nadia Mohamed, Field Office members.
We invited participants to an evening where we imagined 2016 and a future where social justice is realized through 10 participatory art-making stations that included poetry, letter writing, theater, body movement, storycircles, and story mapping. The planning team had some hesitations about organizing this when it was revealed that Brooklyn Museum had leased the space out to the Real Estate Summit for their annual gathering, (a major convening of the real estate giants that are the #1 gentrifying force). USDAC-NYC supported the community protests against the museum. And because of grassroots activism the museum welcomed open dialogue and criticism - we then decided to use the "City of Justice" event as an open space for creative imagination and forward-thinking solutions for housing justice.
Activist groups involved includes CAAAV Chinatown Tenants Union, Brotherhood SisterSol, Picture the Homeless and others.
Some of our creative imagination stations included:
- “Letters to the Future”: where visitors write letters in the future
- “Leaves of Hope”: write hopes for justice on their leaves that will
- “Visions of Progress”: write on blocks of buildings defining "Home" and "Progress"
- “Map Your Story”: contribute a story of displacement or gentrification
- “Memoriam Graffiti Wall”: draw or write messages to honor ancestors and/or living s/heros in the fight for social justice
- "Justice Story Circle": share your stories of hope and justice
- "Poetry and Rhymes Corner": contribute to a collective poem that reflections our visions of liberation.
- "Theatre of the Oppressed Corner": use your body to express collective images for justice